After my fall last week, I decided to check out the bruise on my head with my hand mirror. Because I lack spatial skills, all I could locate was a larger-than-I-had-realized bald spot. Oh, darn. Men with no hair can look sharp but women, not so much.
I first realized I was losing my hair last November when I stepped out of the shower and caught my wet scalp in the mirror. I could see a heck of a lot of scalp. How I had not noticed before? J. had the good sense not to mention it. I thought my hair was growing back, but in recent weeks I’ve noticed a few more strays gracing my sink.
I should probably come clean about my complicated relationship with my hair: I’ve never much liked my mop. It’s mousy brown, very thin, and I’ve never had a lot of it. In Grade 7, when I realized that long, flat, thin hair was less appealing than shorter, flat, thin hair, I cut most of it off. I’m wholly unsuccessful at harnessing my natural wave to its fullest potential. If I nap or put on a toque, I’m sunk. Calgary’s dry weather certainly doesn’t help.
When my hair was at its thinnest, I even went so far as attending a Cancer School class on wigs. I had fantasies of long, thick blonde hair, or maybe I’d go red and curly, something dramatic and different so no one would recognize me. Thankfully, some hair has grown back so I’ve let that idea go for now.
I watched a beautiful too-young woman lose her hair recently during a much more invasive chemo than mine. As if having cancer when you’re young isn’t hard enough, let’s tell the world! I saw a picture of Kailani sporting her new wig, and my first thought was: she doesn’t need a wig! (I’ll admit I’m a bit slow.) She looked fantastic and was beaming with pride. I finally understood the emotional toll of chemo hair loss.
Despite my lack of affection for my hair, I had an unexpectedly strong reaction to realizing I was losing some. For the first time, I realized I didn’t mind what I had so much. I figured the loss had something to do with my chemotherapy, which made me even sadder, since my chemo’s forever. The good thing about leukemia is that it’s invisible to others unless you tell them or they catch you hanging out at the Cancer Centre (a dead giveaway). Sure I’m visibly pale, and I’ve talked ad nauseum about my pregnant-looking belly, but there are many possible explanations for those things.
I was oddly disappointed to learn my hair loss is probably unrelated to my chemo. In fact, many drugs list hair loss as a side effect, yet my bald spot is likely due to an underfunctioning thyroid. I’m just brimming with medical surprises! But for now I’ve let people assume my chemo explains the loss. Let me know if you think I should come clean.